John Wright-The behind-the-scenes man

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Friday, April 30, 2004, 13:42 [IST]
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Team India has been moving from strength to strength in the recent past conquering new territories in the process. India's success in the recent past has been attributed to a variety of reasons from the emergence of young turks to a new-found resilience. However, if you look further, one can find an unsung hero in coach John Wright.

Unlike the modern-day coaches who are more interested in theatrics, the highly affable Kiwi is a quiet person who likes to remain away from the glare of media. No wonder that when Sekhar Gupta did an interview with him for NDTV, he 'thanked' Wright for obliging for an interview which he is usually reluctant to do.

Wright's rapport with the Indian skipper and his deputy has been excellent. The chemistry with Dravid started from their County stint with Kent. Therefore, it didn't come as a surprise when his name came up for the hot seat. The fact that he had to compete with names such as Geoff Marsh makes his selection more valuable. The Doubting Thomas's questioned the wisdom of appointing a 'foreign hand' who had no idea of the local language and conditions. Moreover, in his playing days, Wright was a reluctant traveller to the subcontinent and averaged only in the mid-30s during his playing days.

At a time when many big names including Kapil Dev had failed miserably in the coach's role, BCCI made a gamble by appointing Wright. The first task that Wright had to manage was to ensure that the star-studded Indian team was free of ego clash. It was one of those areas where his predecessors failed. There was no team effort at that time as the victories came from individual brilliance alone.

It was Wright who inculcated the concept of team spirit, unity and cohesiveness among the team members. He had this uncanny ability of spotting out precocious talent and had the patience to persist with them. Under Wright's regime, India dispensed away with one-match wonders as the emphasis was on players who played consistently. Practise sessions were made more stringent and his insistence on yoga classes proved good for the team.

Without Wright, neither would there have been a Sandy Gordon nor the famous Team Huddle. A reticent man by nature, rarely does Wright openly air his disappointment, like the case where India dropped five catches on the on the threshold of victory in the Rawalpindi Test. However, he ensures that matters don't go out of control as evident vis-a-vis the declaration fiasco in Multan. His timely intervention averted misunderstandings between the master blaster and the acting captain that could have snowballed into a major crisis.

Wright's major success has been the fact that he commands respect from all quarters. Be it the team members or the higher echelons of the BCCI. Now as his term ends in September, it would be fair if in the larger interests of the game he is given an extension. Such an act would be a token acknowledgement for his yeomen contributions to the cause of Indian team. To him goes the credit of transforming Indian team to Team India.

However, considering the fact that BCCI's cupboard is full of surprises and that too when the likes of Ian Chappell and Dean Jones have put their hat in the ring for the coach's gaddi one can't be sure of the things in store.

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